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Colombian president honored in Washington, D.C. for efforts to protect biodiversity

25 / 09 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – He prowled the stage like a puma moving through Colombia’s rainforest. With a deep knowledge of ecosystems ranging from marine to savanna to high mountains, he spoke clearly about why these wild places are important to his country and the world. He never mentioned jobs, new roads or dams, or leveraging his country’s vast trove of fossil fuels and precious metals for economic development. He was, for an hour on the morning of Sept. 21, a strange international figure in a city whose national leadership on the environment is the polar opposite of his. “We are a powerhouse of biodiversity,” said Juan Santos, the president of Colombia and the sole recipient of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for ending his country’s 50-year civil war. “With this power comes responsibility. We have a tremendous responsibility to play a role in the world to … preserve the environment and protect the rich assets of our house.” Santos is said to be more popular abroad than he is at home because of the controversial Peace Agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Yet he came to Washington to be honored by the National Geographic Society for his prodigious efforts since taking office in 2010 to expand the protection of Colombia’s biodiversity on both land and sea. Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, praised Santos as “one of the foremost champions of the natural world” in an hour-long ceremony in Grosvenor Auditorium at the…

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